In October I'm doing the challenge of being a vegetarian for a month. It's kind of an experiment to understand why people are vegetarians, how it affects my health and whether it makes any difference to the world.
If you are a vegetarian then it would be great if you could write a few words about why you are a vegetarian and how strict you are about it (are you vegan, do you eat fish etc). I'll use the best ones in a blog post at the start of the month and I'll happily put names and blog links with them so there's a bit of incentive.
Hope I get some replies!
I've been a vegetarian since college. Originally, I was spurred to stop eating meat due to an extremely graphic video in a philosophy class. It showed images from the meat industry, regardless of whether the video was biased or even representative of the whole industry didn't matter, just watching any animal be killed in such inhumane ways made it difficult for me to eat meat for weeks. I became a vegan for a couple of weeks after that, but it was tough without a kitchen to cook in at college, so I reverted to vegetarianism. Over time, I did lose weight, feel better and my skin even looked better. I had less stomach aches and I ate a lot healthier. I still eat dairy products and occasionally eat fish if I'm in an awkward situation and don't feel comfortable with the group I'm in to say I'm a vegetarian. I should probably be more strict about it and "true" strict vegetarians and vegans probably wouldn't appreciate my half-effort, but I do feel like I'm trying! I wish you luck in your endeavor and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts as you go through your journey.
I've never gone a whole month as a vegetarian, but I have gone whole weeks without meat. It is an interesting experiment, but there are so many different types of foods out there that are made of soy that taste almost like meat. Good luck! :)
I am pretty interested in how you get along with this! I don't think that I would be vegetarian properly but I have been interested in eating more vegetarian meals. I do feel healthier when I cook vegetarian, and I would like to eat less meat though I don't think I will give it up altogether.
The only meat I would eat is chicken and for the most part, I don't even eat that (I don't consider myself a vegetarian though). I've noticed it's way more successfully satisfying (appetite-wise) to keep a vegetarian diet in a larger city or artsy community where there are more independent restaurants. Trader Joes has excellent substitutes and don't underestimate the delicious factor of beans and vegetables. It's not all salads all the time. I always check out a menu online before I go to a restaurant to make sure it's not all lamb and beef. And soy milk is terrific in coffee.
When I gave up red meat, I felt so much healthier. We just started doing the no starchy grains / flour foods (no bread, rice, pasta), again, vegetables to the rescue.
I've more or less been vegetarian since I was about 12 or 13. I'm 26 now and haven't eaten beef or pork since then (except for one drunken dare in college where I ate a meatball and had the worst stomach ache of my life afterwards).
I wish I could say I'm vegetarian because of a good reason (like being healthy), but I started out because I wanted to annoy my family with a form of rebellion that didn't require drugs or alcohol. Coming from a Mexican family in the restaurant industry (where almost everything we sell has meat in it), going vegetarian seemed like a good option. But what started out as a slightly misguided attempt to rebel became a fairly permanent way of life for me.
I started out slowly, stopping eat red meat completely and initially ate chicken and turkey throughout high school and into college, but eventually phased it out of my diet. While I can definitely still eat poultry without getting sick, I don't crave it so I don't buy it or include it in my diet. Weirdly enough, the only thing I'll eat is fish in the form of sushi, so I'm officially a pescetarian of sorts.
I'm by no means strict; I eat sushi occasionally (don't care for fish in any other form) and have eaten turkey at Thanksgiving to be polite (my boyfriend's family, who are also Mexican, are very sweet and accommodating, but at large family gatherings like Thanksgiving, I don't mind taking a small piece because it's not a big deal to me). I love dairy products too much to ever be vegan. I just don't ever eat red meat because I've gone so long without it that the one time I even tried it resulted in me getting sick.
If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to answer them!
Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I would be great if I could have a few more replies by the start of October though!
I never liked seafood, so that has never been a part of my diet, which is practically a sin in Maryland where the crabs are famous. Then there was a time when I was fourteen, for no particular reason I can recall, meat became completely unappetizing to me. Eating it made me feel sick. So I became a vegetarian. I did not eat fish, poultry, pork, or beef. I avoided food products containing gelatin (which is frequently made from animal bones), which sadly also meant no marshmallows. I would not eat anything made with meat broths. I sometimes avoided eating eggs. I would not eat fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelettes, etc. but I still ate cakes, brownies, cookies, etc. that were made with eggs. I still ate dairy. Eventually, my strong aversion to meat wore off, but I still had little desire to eat it. Very rarely, I craved chicken or bacon or pepperoni. So becoming a vegetarian was very simple for me. I did not miss meat at all, for five years.
When I moved in with my boyfriend and money was tight, it became financially impractical to cook a vegetarian meal for myself and a meal for him that included meat. I knew he would never make it as a vegetarian since he doesn't like vegetables. So I gradually reintroduced meat into my diet. It was amazing to taste meat after not having had it for so long!
While I was a vegetarian I avoided all fast food, since most fast food options are meat, and the vegetarian options are not all that great. A lingering side effect of my vegetarianism is that fast food generally disgusts me and I hate eating it, because the quality of the meat is so poor. I am puzzled by the large numbers of people I hear raving about Taco Bell and Chick-Fil-A, because even though I, too, once enjoyed those fast food delights, now it just tastes AWFUL to me.
Changing my eating habits was a process that happened over a long time. You can read some of my posts here and here that I wrote after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I started by getting humanely raised, hormone-free meat through a CSA subscription, and I stopped eating meat at restaurants. Then I stopped eating meat anywhere except the CSA meat at home. When we moved, we moved to a very vegetarian- and vegan-friendly area, so it's been easy for me to be meat-free here. One surprising outcome was that I eat a ton more vegetables because most vegetarian alternatives use extra vegetables to make up for the lack of meat (think veggie sub, veggie lover's pizza). I do still eat seafood, so I'm technically a pescatarian, and even then I will eat meat that is humanely raised and hormone- and antibiotic-free. I think people get too hung up on labels for people -- it still makes a difference to reduce your meat consumption somewhat even if you don't want to be a full-fledged vegetarian. Better to make small changes that are sustainable over the long term than try to fit some standard of "healthy" or "humane" eating that you can't sustain.
I've been a vegan for almost a year and a vegetarian for a few years. I grew up with my dad and three brothers who are obviously all meat-eaters. I just never really enjoyed eating it and when I was around 13 or 14 years old I found out what PETA was and watched some pretty scary videos about the meat and dairy industries. I decided then that I would stop eating meat. My family wasn't supportive at all and I found it extremely difficult because I was still a kid and they made my meals for me.
This year I moved out of my parents house and I moved in with my girlfriend (soon to be wife!). Now I can live my life as a vegan and it is so much easier. Giving up dairy wasn't that difficult for me either because I have an intolerance to it and it always upset my stomach.
It's hard for me to come up with a single reason why I'm vegan. I read so many books and watched so many documentaries on the food industry. I will say that I do feel healthier overall.
Right now my diet consists of no meat, dairy, or animal by-products. I eat lots of vegetables, quinoa, beans, tofu, and sea vegetables. And for everyone that could never give up cheese, Daiya Cheese is the best I've found. Seriously, it made my girlfriend a convert :)
Thanks for all your thoughts, I'll be using them shortly. The challenge has started and my first post about it went up today and I thought some of you might be interested. http://www.intogeek.net/2012/10/veggie-month-1.html
I don't mean to spam but I thought some of you might be interested in my 2nd post about this as it's the one where I've used some of your comments! http://www.intogeek.net/2012/10/veggie-month-2-voices-of-veggies.html#